Muslim Congressman Breaks Down At Radicalization Hearing

Rep. King Refuses To Deviate, Says More Hearings Planned

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — On Capitol Hill Thursday, Long Island Congressman Peter King began his inquiry into radicalization in the Islamic-American community.

congressman peter king Muslim Congressman Breaks Down At Radicalization Hearing

Congressman Peter King heading the hearing on Islamic radicalization in America (credit: CBS 2)

Rep. King’s hearings took an emotional turn when Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, tried to speak of the heroism and patriotism of Mohamad Salman Hamdani, a New York City EMT who died on 9/11 trying to save other Americans.

“After the tragedy, some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic faith, but it was only when his remains were identified that these lies were exposed. Mohammad Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethic group or just a member of a religion but as an American who gave everything for fellow Americans,” he said.

WCBS 880’s Michael Wallace with Rep. Peter King

Rep. Ellison argued he thought the hearings were wrong because they could end up scapegoating people because of their faith, but King defended the hearings, noting that al Qaeda has adopted homegrown terrorism as their strategy.

After a week of protests leading up to the hearing, King dismissed what he called unwarranted “rage and hysteria” and said Congress has a duty to press forward.

“We must be fully aware that homegrown radicalization is part of al Qaeda’s strategy to continue attacking the United States. Al Qaeda is actively targeting the American-Muslim community for recruitment,” King said.

“The president’s own national security adviser said al Qaeda is attempting to radicalize the Muslim-American community,” King said.

King marshaled a number of witnesses to help make his point, including Melvin Bledsoe, the father of Carlos Bledsoe who became a radical Muslim and was charged with killing an Army private at a Little Rock recruiting station.

Bledsoe said the efforts to radicalize American youth must be stopped.

“I would like to see something changed that no other family in this great country of ours has to go through what our family is facing today. God help us. God help us,” he said.

But Congressman Bill Pascrell, who represents a large Muslim community in Paterson, N.J., took King to task, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“Every time I’ve sat down with the FBI about my own district I was told many times that there is no hidden agenda in that you need not fear the recruiting,” Pascrell said.

 WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell with Long Islander Talat Hamdani, who thinks the hearings are misguided

“The proposed hearing essentially casts doubt on an entire community,” said Naeem Baig of the Islamic Circle of North America.

Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee said the hearing could be used by terrorists to inspire a new generation of suicide bombers, and that Congress had a responsibility to make sure its words do not make problems worse.

“I cannot help but wonder how propaganda about this hearing’s focus on the American Muslim Community will be used by those who seek to inspire a new generation of suicide bombers,” Thompson said.

Several Democrats had written to King urging him to cancel the hearings or at least broaden the discussion beyond the Muslim community, but fellow Republicans were coming to his defense.

“This hearing is focused on an issue that we’ve got to be aware of. It is facing us and provides a threat to our people,” said Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA).

Attorney General Eric Holder warned against alienating a group he said was already helping fight homegrown terror.

“Tips that we have received, information that has been shared has been critical to our efforts to disrupting plots that otherwise might have occurred,” he said.

King insisted that Muslims shouldn’t feel threatened by the hearings and that if there was going to be any animosity, his opponents would be to blame. After the hearing, King said that he was planning others. The next one, he said, will deal with the radicalization of American Muslims in prisons.

On Thursday, at King’s request, the Capitol Police secured the congressional hearing room and surrounding areas, as well as his office.
   
Rarely does a congressional hearing attract as much advance controversy. Critics have likened them to the McCarthy-era hearings investigating communism.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Marcia Kramer
Comments

One Comment

  1. Ralph says:

    Did Muslims cry when the towers came down, or the USMC barracks were bombed, or when American Embassies were bombed in Africa, or the Madrid train bombings, or London bombings/? the beheadings of American Pearl?? No the celebrated!!

  2. Idratherbegolfing says:

    So let me get this correct. King holds a hearing to find out how to help prevent Al Qaeda from radicalizing Muslim Americans and he is in the wrong? Are you kidding? OK I guess the other course of action would be to do nothing let them radicalize and wait for them to kill innocent Americans. It’s not like he is proposing putting them in camps. He is trying to be proactive unlike most politicians who only speak up after something actually happens. Can we just stop worrying about who we are going to offend and do what’s in the best interest of this country?

    1. kaisersoser says:

      I believe that consistently falling educational standards and increasing inequality between rich and poor in this country is infinitly more dangerous to the long term existence of the USA, than any terrorist can ever be to our existence.

      America, like all great empires before us, will fall; if we ignore to prepare our children for the future they are going to need to compete with other citizens of this planet.

      If Rep. King wants to “save” America, he should hold committee’s to determine how best to educate and prepare our children for the world of tomorrow.

      Nothing good will come from this witch-hunt against islam.

      1. Mayonnaise says:

        kaisy,

        Smoking isn’t good either, maybe congress should discuss this? Would that make u happy? Why not run for congress, then u can work on your agenda

      2. Isadore says:

        I responded to your other comment at length. Don’t know why it didn’t appear but too lazy to type again🙂
        As to what you wrote here re: falling educational standards and increasing inequality between rich and poor
        Two different issues – although basic survival should be assured, the government should not engineer financial equality between people. It will cause total stagnation of our economic system.
        The government SHOULD however engineer equal educational opportunity for all including high standards. This unfortunately is not being done and we are falling quickly……………

      3. William S says:

        I assume that your cousin didn’t work for Cantor Fitzgerald and die on September 11th nor were you in any way personally touched by those senseless and heartless attack on our. Why don’t you try writing this horsesh** on a blog in Pakistan or Egypt- you’ll be beheaded only after being tortured for 3 days. People like you love our freedom, but don’t have the slightest appreciation what sacrifices others have made to give you that very freedom. Go watch your reruns of Little House on the Prairie, the rest of us have to pray that men like Peter King and Ray Kerry live another 100 years…… UNREAL!

      4. Isadore says:

        Actually, appeared now. See below
        Best

      5. Isador says:

        Actually, appeared now. See below
        Best

      6. kaisersoser says:

        Isadore,

        I am happy that we are moving the discussion away from the abstract “fear” of terrorism to the need to address the real everyday issues that plague our society, such as inequality, education and better living standards.

        I wish King would be pro-active and do the same….

        Talking about inequality, ask yourself if you as a normal individual can have your voice and concerns heard by congress, compared to the multi-billion dollar company lobbying congress for more tax holes so they can relocate your job off-shore in the name of globalization.

        If you lobbied your congress-person to fight for your job on your behalf, who do you think they will listen to? You the voter who voted them into office, or the company that paid their dinner ticket and fundraiser?

        The truth is that this witch-hunt started by King is just another ploy to blind us to the fact that Congress is not really interested in solving the real-issues they where voted into office to solve, but would rather continue to distract us by feeding our basic fears with the latest version of the inquisition, made for Reality-TV.

        And we are just lapping up their cool aid without asking meaningful questions about their motives and objectives.

        That is why I argue that the real danger to our society is our increasing ignorance, and not some radicalized nut-job with a bone to pick, of which I would remind you that Islam is not the only religion to produce those…

  3. kaisersoser says:

    I read the comments here, and I realize that America has a serious danger to its long term existence.

    And no it is not any form of radical religion that is the cause, but rather the growing ignorance of its citizens, that are easily manipulated by fear. This same ignorance lead to the Iraq and Afganistan war, and if we do not do more to foster basic human attributes such as tolerance, objectivity, compassion, and educate our children for the world of tomorrow, I fear that America will be quickly left behind by a world that increasingly realizes they no longer need us.

    Some ignoramus will probably post some lame insult in reply to this comment, and that will just further prove how much we have fallen from the ideals that once made us a great nation.

    1. Isadore says:

      Your preemption in calling someone who disagrees with you an ignoramus does not dilute the fact that your post is based more on emotion than knowledge of history.
      Human fear is a basic instinct that protect(s) peoples. If you study history you will learn that the downfall of most great empires was preceded by overconfidence and complacency (in other words a lack of fear.)
      As to tolerance and compassion, I wholeheartedly agree with you, but if it is not a two way street than you are a sitting duck. There are cruel people out there who are ready to pounce upon the weak.

      1. kaisersoser says:

        If you read my comment carefully, I only called those ignoramus that believe a cheap insult is a sufficient reply to a valid argument. That is obviously clearly not the case with you so I think we can have a debate.

        You argue that my post is based on emotion, then you proceed to base your argument on the most basic of emotions,…Fear!

        The fact is that empires fall not out of a lack of fear but because of their inability to change and adapt to the inevitable changing world we co-habitate with others.

        Instead of adapting to changing circumstances, empires instead try to change the circumstances to adapt to them. This is the critical error that has lead to the demise of many a great empire, not the lack of fear,…of which I assure you is in no short supply when those with much feel they have much to lose to those with little or nothing.

        The Romans that fed the practitioners of the new christian religion to the lions where motivated by the same fear you speak of, yet it did not save their empire.

        Maybe we should learn from their lesson.

        And lest we forget, that same fear has lead us into 2 wars in Iraq and Afganistan that continues to kill innocent people each day, as well as drain our resources to the brink of a recession.

        Ultimately, we have nothing to fear but fear itself,…

      2. kaisersoser says:

        If you read my comment carefully, I only called those ignoramus that believe a cheap insult is a sufficient reply to a valid argument. That is obviously clearly not the case with you so I think we can have a debate.

        You argue that my post is based on emotion, then you proceed to base your argument on the most basic of emotions,…Fear!

        The fact is that empires fall not out of a lack of fear but because of their inability to change and adapt to the inevitable changing world we co-habitate with others.

        The Romans that fed the practitioners of the new christian religion to the lions where motivated by the same fear you speak of, yet it did not save their empire.

        Maybe we should learn from their lesson.

        And lest we forget, that same fear has lead us into 2 wars in Iraq and Afganistan that continues to kill innocent people each day, as well as drain our resources to the brink of a recession.

        Ultimately, we have nothing to fear but fear itself,…

    2. Isadore says:

      Kaisersoser,
      I am saying that fear is a necessary component of life for societies as a whole. Your comment struck me as being based on personal emotion. Big difference there.

      Empires fade because they are complacent and do not fear. The Romans were bigots and murder was second nature to them. I do not know if it was fear that motivated them. It would not take a lot to kill at that period in human history. While today most people would not be able to pull a trigger if they felt their life was not at stake, in those days people killed for a lot less. There are people or society who find it imperative that everyone accepts their views.

      Moreover we cannot learn from the Romans. Every situation is very complex and must be judged for itself. I am only arguing that fear can be rational. Ultimately, I am not informed about the true extent of extremist recruiting in the US. I know it exists, and I hope the sole motivation behind the hearing is to see to what extend they do.

      I am not personally against the hearings, except that their should have been a media blitz earlier to explain what they are and what they are not. I would think that if any action is actually undertaken as a result of the hearings, that they should have bi-partisan support.

      Regarding Afghanistan and Iraq – the loss of life in regrettable. Should we have gone in? Iraq probably not, Afghanistan probably yes, but ultimately and honestly I do not have the inside information that governments do and so do not know what I would have done under the circumstances.

      I do believe in being proactive, though I concede that there is a fine line between proactivity and paranoia.
      Best

  4. Jerseyjoey says:

    You know as much as I drive crazy Liberals and leftists alike, One thing all can agree on is it is not a perfect world. If every one was happy and there was peace in the world the liberals would find something to complain about and create dissent. Bottom line with this is: King is out to Protect my country from Evil, be it muslim or christian or Hindi. King is a HERO to proven otherwise.

  5. Steve says:

    Simon – why don’t you and the JDL “take a long walk, off of a short pier?”

  6. Michael H. says:

    There we have it, folks! Corey B just called for Rep. Ellison to be SHOT! CBS is allowing this hate to persist in their comment section!?

  7. z z zodiac says:

    I wish they would stop murdering innocent people in the name of religion.

  8. Edward Gibbon says:

    While Mr Ellion’s sentiment may appear touching, it is either patently false or entirely misguided. Is he so naive that he fails to realize the indviduals which these hearings are meant to root out are the very same people who would consider Mr Ellison’s heroic paramedic as a traitor and worthy of a beheading because of his actions on 9/11? The continued deafening silence of the global Muslim community on it’s extremists behavoiur is doing more to taint the religion as a whole than any hearings could do. But once again, thanks to a biased media and our PC society hell bent on destroying itself, we will villify Peter King, a much easier target. He is white after all, and makes sense. Two criteria in 21st century America that immediately qualify him as evil.

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